A lawsuit filed by former Penn State football assistant coaches Jay Paterno and William Kenney against Penn State is moving forward.
Centre County President Judge Pamela Ruest on Tuesday filed an opinion and order denying several of Penn State's preliminary objections in the suit.
The lawsuit was filed in Centre County court over the assistant coaches not being rehired by the football program after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
According to court documents, Paterno and Kenney claim that Penn State reacted with "rashness and without basis by prematurely releasing" the majority of the Penn State football coaching staff in January 2012.
Paterno and Kenney had "exemplary reputations" prior to their termination, according to court documents. The suit goes on to say that although neither of them had been found to have committed or been involved in any of the wrongdoing in connection with the Sandusky scandal, "Penn State terminated each of them at the height of the Sandusky scandal's dark shroud and without any attempt whatsoever by Penn State to preserve the reputations of these guiltless individuals."
Penn State "injured and maligned" them by depriving them of their procedural due process rights that, in turn, damaged their reputations, according to the lawsuit.
Ruest's order denies Penn State's preliminary objections that there's a legal insufficiency for allegations of intentional interference with prospective contractual relations and violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.
Ruest also ordered that punitive damages are stricken from the plaintiffs' Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law claim only.
"Taking the facts alleged in the complaint as a whole, plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to support punitive damages to proceed under both breach of contract and intentional interference claims," Ruest wrote in her opinion.
The university in court documents has denied any wrongdoing. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Thursday that the university's general practice is to not discuss ongoing litigation.
Paterno and Kenney had previously filed a lawsuit in federal court against the university, claiming Penn State violated both state and federal law in dismissing them. That lawsuit was dismissed in May 2017.
Kenney is now with the Western Michigan football program. Paterno was elected last year by Penn State alumni to serve on the university's board of trustees.